They say it’s tough to buy into the virtual reality hype until you’ve tried it for yourself. That’ll soon be a lot easier as Gamestop and Microsoft Stores start demoing the HTC Vive VR headset.
Vive demos have already begun at Microsoft Stores in New York City, Bellevue, and Salt Lake City. Microsoft plans to expand demos to a dozen more stores (including one in Australia) later this month, and an undisclosed number of additional stores in May. Gamestop will start showing off the HTC Vive at 10 U.S. locations, starting on April 16. (We’ve posted the full list of HTC Vive demo locations at the bottom of this story.)
Each store will have a single demo station, which makes sense given the minimum 6.5-foot-by-5-foot space that HTC recommends for room-scale VR. The headsets will be connected with Alienware 51 PCs, and according to Fortune will run a 10-minute demo loop that includes theBlu, Space Pirate Trainer, Job Simulator, and Tilt Brush.
Both retailers will be taking orders for those who are convinced to buy the $800 headset on the spot, but they won’t be keeping the Vive in stock. HTC’s website says current orders are expected to ship in May, though Fortune says new orders are now back-ordered until June.
Rival VR company Oculus, meanwhile, has not yet confirmed any retail demo plans for its own Oculus Rift headset. The company previously said that demo stations would arrive at undisclosed retail stores in April.
Why this matters: Although high-end VR is currently an expensive proposition, requiring both the headset and at least $900 worth of PC components, the initial demo experience is so mind-blowing that it could easily lead to some “shut and take my money” scenarios. It wouldn’t be surprising if more demo stations started popping up as VR headsets become cheaper and more readily available.
In the meantime, here’s where you can try HTC Vive over the next month:
Gamestop (Starting April 16):
- Plano, TX: Preston Road,
- New York, NY: Broadway at 85th
- Latham, NY: Latham Farms
- Bellvue, WA: Bellevue Square
- Hillsboro, OR: Tanasbourne Town Center
- Chicago, IL: The Brickyard Shopping Center
- Orlando, FL: Hunters Creek
- Brandon, FL: Lake Brandon Shoppes
- West Hollywood, CA: West Hollywood Gateway
- Gulfport, MS: Gulfport Plaza
Microsoft Store (Available now):
- New York, NY: Fifth Avenue
- Bellevue, WA: Bellevue Square Mall
- Salt Lake City: UT, City Creek Center
Microsoft Store (Later in April):
- Scottsdale, AZ: Scottsdale Fashion Square
- Mission Viejo, CA: The Shop at Mission Viejo
- Lone Tree, CO: Park Meadows Mall
- Austin, TX: The Domain
- Huntington Station, NY: Walt Whitman Shops
- Cincinnati, OH: Kenwood Towne Centre
- Orlando, FL: Mall at Millenia
- Troy, MI: The Somerset Collection
- Dallas, TX: North Park Center
- Tampa, FL: International Plaza
- King of Prussia, PA: King of Prussia Mall
- Sydney, Australia: Westfield Sydney in Pitt Street Mall